If you prefer flesh-and-blood frights to ghost hunting, south-central Pennsylvania has something for you, too.
The Haunted Mill Scream Park in Spring Grove boasts five different attractions to terrify thrill-seekers at the site of a historic gristmill that was built in 1753.
Tim Sterner operates the ghoul campus, which his father created 23 years ago. Sterner operates a farm on the property for most of the year, but around Halloween he employs 75 to 125 people in a monthlong effort to frighten and delight.
Getting the property ready for October is a “yearly event,” Sterner said. Scare tactics include personnel dressed in creepy costumes, props, hydraulic contraptions, lighting effects and sound-production techniques.
Security staff and emergency medical technicians are on site in case the experience is too much for visitors to handle. The area also includes what Sterner calls “scaredy-cat seats,” where the young or faint-of-heart can wait for their friends or family to go through the attractions.
“Kids today want an awful lot out of Halloween,” Sterner said, “but you have to remember that you have family people coming through, as well.”
A look under the monster masks reveals children as young as 5 accompanying their parents on their mission to terrify the customers.
Sterner said that “Halloween’s come a long way” since he was a kid, and he has a special motto to describe the Haunted Mill experience: “We’re what dreams are made of, and we hope you toss and turn all night and that your dreams are raunchy.”
Where: 5932 Colonial Valley Road, Spring Grove Hours: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Sunday; 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; open until Oct. 30 Cost: $10 per attraction or all five for $35 Phone: 717-225-4811 Website: hauntedmillscreampark.com
For another south-central Pennsylvania Halloween haunt, try Halloween Park in York Haven.
Where: 100 Hykes Mill Road, York Haven Hours: 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday; open until Oct. 30 Cost: $28, plus an online ordering fee Phone: 717-266-8626 Website: halloweenpark.com
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.